16. Jun, 2019

FLAMIN’ JUNE

And I am not referring to the weather, but the terrible terrible decision we had to make to put our fire in. It’s unheard of in June, we usually sail through from May until October without one, but not this year. The combination of cool days and lots of rain has meant we just had to.

The rain has meant we haven’t got as far as we would like, but since we have no time constrictions this year, it doesn’t make that much difference to us personally, but it does mean we haven’t managed to do much to fill the blog with, so, I thought I would wax lyrical for a change, so here goes.

Our days seem to flow by as serenely as the canal flows. Most of my day when we are travelling is spent looking round, and taking in the beauty of the cut. The colours of the trees and the fields are such vibrant shades of green and brown, with the occasional whites and pinks of mayflower and dog rose.

The fields, which at first glance seem a single shade of green, change as a sunbeam hits its target, and the colour shimmers and changes before your eyes, when a cloud casts it shadow the grass takes on another shade of green. It never gets boring.

The tree bark also seems to be a never ending brown, but when you look closely each tree has a unique pattern, with some covered by a carpet of green ivy. The leaves all have their own life as they flutter in the breeze, and their colour changes with each gust of wind. The peace of the cut is only disturbed by the songs of the birds, and the occasional train hurtling by (the canal and railway often share the same route). I strain my ears to identify the different sweet songs of the birds. My eyes are drawn to the movement in the trees that give their lofty perches away. They flit across the canal in front of us, taking my eyes away from the every changing colours of the trees and undergrowth.

Sometimes it seems that we are passing through some great cathedral, created by the tress to worship the wonder of nature, and then we are out in the open, with stunning views of rolling hills and deep valleys, and in some places experience the amazing ingenuity of our forefathers, where viaducts fill the landscape spanning huge valleys in the name of progress.

So back to our journey.

We have travelled the Trent and Mersey, through the Harecastle tunnel and onto the Macclesfield canal. This canal was built to carry coal and cotton, built by Telford it is of cut and fill construction. It is 26miles long and has on set of 12 locks at Bosley. It was opened in 1831 and commercial traffic ended in 1954.

Along its route there are 2 main towns Congleton, and as the canals name suggests Macclesfield. First Congleton, and it’s a town we have visited in the past. We moored up and set off to try a couple of pubs by the side of the canal, the Queens Head and the Railway (originally called to Navigation before the coming of the railway), but we spied something much better, a recently opened micropub called the Wonky Pear. It was a real find and we would highly recommend it. The other 2 pubs were not so successful.

We went into Congleton town the next day. It’s a nice walk, in as it’s all downhill, not so good for coming back though. We called in at the Town Hall tourist information office as we wanted to have a look round the town hall, which although it’s a Victorian building its built in the gothic style, and inside looked like a castle. A very kind lady took us in and we weren’t disappointed, the main hall is amazing and has a very ornate mock minstrel’s gallery. She also suggested we would enjoy the town museum, and we did. It is tiny, but absolutely packed with interesting facts about the town and its industry and residents.

After a little shopping we head to the pub (of course) firstly the local Wetherspoons, The Counting House, it was ok then we tried the Young Pretender, a little pretentious for our taste, and then the Captain offers to take me out for tea at the Old Kings Head, the food was tasty and very reasonably priced. Then a taxi back to the boat, I did say it was up hill all the way back.

There was a food festival on in the town at the weekend, and we thought we might have been about for it, as the Bosley locks were closed due to a leaking lock gate, but CRT got their finger out and it was fixed quickly.

The locks are single, and when we reached there was a bit of a queue as CRT were bringing a work boat down, and made the rest of us wait to go up. But it did mean we had the help of a couple of very friendly volunteers, this was even better for the boat behind us Wedgewood, a hire boat and the crew hadn’t done any locks for many many years, they soon got the hang of it. There was much chatting and helping each other out, as it should be.

We met up with Wedgewood and its crew a few times over the next few days.

What can I say about Macclesfield, not a lot, I was not impressed with the town or its pubs at all. Again it’s downhill into the start of the town, then uphill to get into the centre. It was Sunday when we visited and we tried 5 pubs in the town, 3 were kind of micropubs, but like the Young Pretender in Congleton, I found them a little pretentious and expensive, so much so we only had halves in them. Not like us at all. The Captain did treat me to tea at Wetherspoons, as I really didn’t feel like cooking. We had had the terrible news that a good friend of ours, Martin, had lost his fight with cancer the day before. This maybe tainted my view of Macclesfield as well. I just wasn’t in the mood.

We reached the end of the Macclesfield at Marple and joined the Upper Peak Forest Canal. We know this canal very well, as we bought the boat when it was based at New Mills and spent a year moored there.

We had a walk into Marple, there is a good selection of shops and one very good pub, The Samuel Oldknow. After getting a few bits from Asda we had a couple of pints in there, before trying the Ring O Bells which is on the canal, we thought it was expensive the first time we visited, and things haven’t changed.

On to New Mills, and we needed a pump out. This was lucky for me as I managed to catch up with Stella Ridgeway, she is a boaters representative on the CRT council, and I am thinking about standing at the next elections. It was great to have a chat and get her perspective on things, we have chatted on Facebook a few times, but it was much better face to face. She is glad that I am interested in standing, as there a lack of ladies on the council and this needs addressing.

And to finish our trip into Bugsworth basin we met a boat wedged across the canal, they were trying to leave their mooring at Furnace Vale but were just too long to get round. But with a bit of brute strength and ignorance, and the help of the Captain, they were soon free and on their way.

That’s all for now folks.